The Colosseum crowd roared for Celine Dion during Sunday’s first live rehearsal when she teased her husband about his gambling passion.
She explained how excited she was about returning to Las Vegas to about 4,000 employees from Caesars Palace and sister properties, taxi drivers and concierges.
For a singer, she said, it’s a dream come true — being back in Vegas — with a great orchestra supporting her.
"But for Rene," she said, "being in Vegas again is an even bigger dream come true."
With that, she mimicked throwing dice and declared, "He’s all in!"
Rene Angelil has been a big-time player for years, and to Dion’s credit, she acknowledges it.
The only time it became an issue during her stay in Las Vegas was four years ago. Jan Jones, a top executive for Harrah’s Entertainment (since renamed Caesars Entertainment), disclosed in an interview with a British newspaper that he "probably gambles $1 million a week. But he can afford to."
Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner quickly issued a statement, calling media reports of Angelil’s gambling losses "grossly inaccurate" and "entirely false." He added that Angelil was actually up $230,000 for the years 2005 and 2006.
Selesner apologized for "any embarrassment that may have resulted from the media speculation."
Dion’s lighthearted acknowledgement Sunday might have been intended to defuse the issue. It also might have been off the cuff and won’t be in the show.
A representative for the show, which officially opens March 15, cautioned Tuesday against basing early reviews on snippets from rehearsals.
As I reported on Twitter after Sunday’s show, an informant told me Dion sang tributes to Michael Jackson ("Man in the Mirror," "Just Can’t Stop Loving You") and James Bond (themes from "Goldfinger," "Diamonds Are Forever").
During numerous costume changes a la Cher, behind-the-scenes video of Dion and her three children and Angelil roll on the giant LED screen.
Other songs included: "It’s All Coming Back to Me Now," the theme from "Beauty and the Beast," Billy Joel’s "Lullaby (Good Night My Angel)" and "Open Arms."
A REAL WINNER
Most NASCAR fans will remember Carl Edwards for winning here on Sunday and generating a ton of pre-race publicity by jumping off the Stratosphere and flying with the Thunderbirds.
A family will remember Edwards for taking the time to raise the spirits of a youngster minutes after Sunday’s race.
Edwards had just received the trophy in the winner’s circle and was rushing through a gantlet of cheering fans.
Suddenly he reached to acknowledge a boy in a wheelchair who was wearing a No. 99 Edwards cap and shirt.
Edwards signed the cap and shirt, saying, "You’re my No. 1 fan." Accompanying Edwards was Jeff Motley, public relations director for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"Sometimes athletes don’t get credit for nice things they do," Motley said. "Carl did that in this instance."
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Syndicated radio host Tom Leykis is giving the keynote speech today at the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Las Vegan Steve Schirripa debuts the hitman show "Nothing Personal" on ID Discovery today at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. The fourth episode features a Las Vegas link (hired killer Steve Homick).
"Top Chef" has a casting call at STK (Cosmopolitan) on Thursday.
Paris Hilton, dining at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (Forum Shops at Caesars) on Monday night. … Hilton, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf and NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, at separate tables at STK on Saturday. On Sunday at STK: NASCAR legend Richard Petty and driver A.J. Almendinger. … At The Bank (Bellagio) on Sunday night: NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin.
THE PUNCH LINE
"Charlie Sheen is going to Haiti. He’s such a narcissist, he probably thinks he’s a bigger disaster than Haiti." — Joy Behar
Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or email@example.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.